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Wow, Tamarind

Shopping in a fresh herbs and spices store, I purchased a couple tamarind pods to see what they tasted like. Weighing nothing, they didn't charge me at check out.
I Googled to see where the spice was. It was the pulp and read the instructions how to get the pulp. I scraped the seeds and got about a tablespoon of the gooey pulp. The tamarind was in pod form in a huge bin, sold in bulk. (Someone buying the tamarind in this raw state must have to go through a lot of work to get enough to use.)
I see it's available as blocks online.
What a distinctive flavor.
What are some of your uses for tamarind?

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  1. Curries, Agua Fresca, with Chipotle for a sauce, Chutney, Fish soup, mixed with Sugar Salt and Chili as Candy, Sauce for Thai Miang kham.To name a few

    1. This thread will be some help. I buy the paste in a frozen block in my local 'Hung Long' asian store... not worth it to do the work of fresh, to me. I am happy to let someone in a streamlined shop somewhere get the fibers, etc. out, (and hopefully re-purpose the pods). A consistent product I can buy, thaw, and divide into portions works great for me...

      See this for ideas:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/384283

      There are more threads. Use the search in upper right, and just type in "tamarind paste".

      1. I recently made this recipe for pad thai and it turned out excellent: http://www.templeofthai.com/recipes/p...

        I used the same dried, in-the-pod type tamarind that you bought. To get at the pulp, I cracked off as much of the shell as I could, covered the remaining pulp/seeds/membrane/stuck-on bits of shell with boiling water and soaked it all for about half an hour. Then I mashed it up really good with my hands, wrung out and tossed as much of the seeds etc. as I could and then strained the rest. It really wasn't that much work and it made a smooth, thick puree-like paste that tasted great. From what I've read, the tamarind blocks still have membranes and seedy bits mixed in and you have to go through a similar process or soaking and straining to get at the pulp (although you don't have to shell them first).

        That pad thai was the only time I've ever actually used tamarind (although I've had tamarindo agua fresca), but the tamarind made the dish! In fact, the only thing I changed about the recipe was that I added way more tamarind than was called for, and I think I will add even more next time.

        I imagine it would make a great ingredient for salad dressing or worked into a cheesecake somehow

        9 Replies
        1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

          Great help.
          Thanks to all.
          This info will keep me busy.
          I'll order the paste online.
          I can't imagine someone doing it by hand.

          1. re: sylvan

            Consider buying it in concentrate form. No seeds or pulp, extremely convenient and easy to use. I would think most Asian markets carry it (16 oz for 3-4$) but it can be found online as well.

            1. re: sylvan

              I think it is done by hand, just in places where labor is cheap : Philippines, Thailand, Etc...

              1. re: chefj

                It really isn't that hard... aside from the soaking time, it seriously took me maybe 5 minutes to get the shells off (they just crack right off) and another 2 minutes to squish out the pulp and strain the paste. I ended up with maybe a cup of paste and it wasn't any harder than, say, peeling potatoes or shelling peanuts. Easier than shelling peanuts, actually. I mean, I wouldn't want to have to deal with pounds and pounds of the things, but I made enough paste for two batches of pad thai with no problem. And I think the whole bag of dried tamarind cost me less than a dollar. Also, I've read that while the blocks of pulp are pretty good, many products labelled "concentrate," "juice," or "water" are extremely watered down.

                There's some great information about preparing the pulp from both blocks and dried pods here: http://www.shesimmers.com/2010/05/how...

                1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                  I assume that this reply was meant for "sylvan"

                  1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                    thanks, BananaBirkLarsen
                    the store that sells tamarind in huge bins keeps filling the bins when they get empty, so apparently you're right in that a lot of people get it from scratch
                    When I tried it with two pods of maybe 5 seeds each, it was a bit time comsuming teasing the pulp off
                    I had to experiment
                    what a wonderful taste

                    1. re: sylvan

                      I imagine it would be time consuming to get the pulp off of the seeds without soaking them in water first! And yes, wonderful taste.

                    2. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                      >Also, I've read that while the blocks of pulp are pretty good, many products labelled "concentrate," "juice," or "water" are extremely watered down.<

                      Tamicon - tamarind concentrate - no pulp - is readily available in small jars at your local IndoPak market. The opposite of 'watered down' - in fact, used in any significant quantity it will turn the dish an unappetizing (but tasty) shade of brown.

                      The wonderful tartness has inspired me to search for a poultry recipe similar to fesenjan (made with pomegranate). I really need to try the Pati Jinich recipe below...

              2. Tamarind is my favorite addition to homemade barbecue sauce.

                3 Replies
                1. re: vegetablecow

                  can chua soup - that marvelous vietnamese soup that is a little sweet, a little hot and a little sour - i make mine with fish stock, tamarind, fresh peeled tomatoes, pineapple, etc. you can also get tamarind soup mix in most asian groceries (like chicken bouillion) but it's easy enough to make this soup from scratch.

                  1. re: teezeetoo

                    Penang assam laksa has tamarind in it.

                  2. I just made this Tamarind Ginger Fizz drink ( http://www.food52.com/recipes/4255_ta... ) to accompany Valentine's dinner tonight. It was amazing -- sort of like sparkling lemonade, but fruitier and kind of spicy.

                    1 Reply